Troy Davis Died for a Crime He Committed

COMMENTARY | Troy Davis, a convicted cop killer, was recently put to death for his crime in Georgia. Many death penalty opponents, and some death penalty supporters, claim the evidence against Davis was dubious at best.

Reading some of the press reports about recanting witnesses, no DNA evidence, and so on, one might suspect an innocent man may have been put to death. But liberal Washington Post columnist Charles Lane and conservative writer Ann Coulter, who probably do not agree on much, agree, after digging a little deeper, that Davis was guilty. Lane doesn’t think cop killing should be a capital offense. Coulter disagrees.

Lane points out that Davis had 22 years of appeals to prove his innocence. He suggests that in the hearing at the U.S. District Court in Savannah, Ga., presided by Judge William T. Moore, a Clinton appointee, Davis’ case crumbled very rapidly. The “recanting” witnesses were not credible and were discredited under cross examination. Even when the Supreme Court imposed a stay out of the wish to go the extra mile, Davis and his lawyers were not able to even pass the test of reasonable doubt, not to mention innocence.

Coulter, as she tends to be, was very blunt and direct. Davis was a pawn for death penalty opponents who cared little about him and even less for his victim. Coulter, unlike many in the media, actually bothered to look at the trial transcripts. She found some interesting details about the “recanting” witnesses.

Three were friends of Davis who made “minor or unbelievable modifications” in their testimony. One was the girlfriend of the homeless person whom Davis and a friend were harassing. (The police officer told them to stop, whereupon Davis shot him twice.) The girlfriend’s recantation was not really one at all; she stuck to all of the relevant details.

Two “recanting” witnesses were not allowed to testify at the Georgia district court hearing by Davis’ lawyers, suggesting their testimony would not help Davis’ case.

Of the remaining 27 witnesses, three were members of the U.S. Air Force who were in a van in the drive through lane of the Burger King where the murder took place. All the witnesses clearly identified the shooter as a man wearing a white shirt, which Davis was wearing at the time.

If one opposes the death penalty, then any execution is a public wrong, no matter how heinous the murderer in question. But oddly the case of Lawrence Russell Brewer, executed the same say as Davis, did not get nearly as much attention from the media or the anti-death penalty lobby. As far as anyone knows, there were no pleas for mercy from Jimmy Carter or the pope.

The difference is, though both were as guilty as hell, Brewer was an unrepentant, racist murderer and Davis was an African American who maintained his innocence to the last. The anti-death penalty lobby knows perfectly well who makes a better poster child for their cause.

Source: Troy Davis: guilty as charged, Charles Lane, Washington Post, Sept 22, 2011

Cop-Killer is Media’s Latest Baby Seal, Ann Coulter, Ann Coulter Blog, Sept 21, 2011

James Byrd’s Murder Led to More Hate-Crime Laws, Mark R. Whittington, Yahoo News, Sept 22, 2011

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